It was overcast but dry when the Moto3 riders took to the circuit ahead of the ninth round of the championship at the Motul TT Assen for the third Free Practice session before qualifying. Riders were quickly on the pace set the day before by Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and the Spanish rookie continued to dominate for the final session as he set the fastest time of 1:42.051; just over a second slower than his fastest time the previous day.
Moto3 riders attempted to follow in Brad Binder’s tyre tracks
A gang of riders left the pits together for the final time behind current championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in order to try and learn a thing or two, and to try and benefit from the slipof those in front. It was Canet who was strongest though and an incredibly strong third sector allowed him to take half a second off his time and break through the 1:43 barrier. He was flying and on his next time managed to reduce it by almost 0.6 seconds to set his quickest lap. His lap was faster than the current Circuit Lap Record for the Moto2 held by his injured teammate Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) from last year during the race but still almost a second slower than the Best Lap time here (1:41.283) set by Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) during qualifying which gained him pole position.
Honda rider Canet was one of eleven riders that managed that managed to lap under 1:43 minutes during the final practice session. Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was second fastest ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) who was the quickest of the Mahindra riders and the fastest KTM was Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fourth. Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) crashed at the end of the session at turn ten after the front tucked away on the right hander and threw him into the gravel trap.
Qualifying got underway
Fabio Quartararo unluckily stalled his Leopard Racing Team KTM as he made his way to the track at the start of the session; members of the Aspar Team helped to get him going again. Antonelli crashed out at turn five less than five minutes into the session; he spun out on the corner after the front end tucked underand was narrowly missed by riders behind him. Fortunately he was straight back up on his feet and a marshal was able to assist him in restarting his bike with the cooler track temperature being considered as the reason for his crash as tyre temperatures may have been affected. He soon got back up to speed having chosen to remain on track instead of returning to his pit garage.
Unfortunately for Canet who led on day one, he crashed after ten minutes at turn eight; his bike was in a bad way and his visor ripped off his helmet however the rookie was able to walk away from the crash. Once his bike was returned to the pits it was less than ten minutes before his crew had it repaired and he was able to make it back out on the track for the final fifteen minutes.
Soon after Canet’s crash Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) crashed at turn five after his teammate Juanfran Guevara failed to brake in time as they entered the corner and he tagged the back of him throwing him off the KTM. He managed to keep the clutch in so the bike was still running and he was able to quickly return to track. Another crash followed moments later when Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) crashed at turn nine burying his Honda in the gravel; he appeared unhurt.
Rain started to fall at Motul TT Assen
The Moto3 riders continued to chip away at their times as their ‘teamwork’ paid off; riders would chase round in groups hoping to receive a tow from those in front leaving them with more power as they came to the straights in an attempt to reduce time. As riders returned to the track after a short break for the final fifteen minutes they were welcomed with the rain flag as it began to rain lightly on several corners. Bastianini ran onto the gravel at turn nine and was almost joined by Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) who only needed to use the run-off tarmac possibly as a result of the change in weather.
The change in conditions meant that in the final stages riders lost a second as they were forced to lap slightly slower. It meant that Bastianini’s time that he set earlier on in the session of 1:42.463 was enough to secure him pole position for the ninth round of the championship series at the Motul TT Assen. It was his first pole position of the year as the leading Honda. He was followed by a group of seven KTMs that filled the first three rows on the grid.
The top three KTMs were the Sky Racing VR46 team led by Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) in second who has looked strong at the circuit despite crashing the day before managed to score second position on the grid. His rookie teammate Nicolo Bulega completed the front row having possibly never ridden here before. The young Italian has just extended his contract by two years. Romano Fenati qualified in fourth ahead of championship leader Brad Binder and Guevara completed the second row.
Teammate to Brad Binder, Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) qualified in seventh ahead Quartararo and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) in ninth. Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) completed the top ten as the fastest Mahindra followed by Rodrigo and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who is riding for Jorge Navarro who is unable to participate after breaking his leg in a training accident and having to undergo surgery.
Crash for Antonelli in the closing stages
Antonelli crashed again at the end of the session and had to settle for thirteenth position despite being fast at Assen. His teammate Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) qualified nineteenth and Philipp Oettl (Shedl GP Racing) completed the fifth row in fifteenth. British rider John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) was the highest place Peugeot rider in twenty-first ahead of the only female Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) in twenty-second. Albert Arenas is standing in for Jorge Martin for Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 and qualified in twenty-seventh. Danny Webb has returned to the Moto3 class this round as he has been brought in to replace Karel Hanika for Platinum Bay Real Estate Mahindra as they felt he was not getting the results. British rider Webb completes the grid in thirty-second.
|1||33 Enea Bastianini||ITA||Gresini Racing Moto3||Honda||1:42.463|
|2||16 Andrea Migno||ITA||Sky Racing Team VR46||KTM||1:42.56|
|3||8 Nicolo Bulega||ITA||Sky Racing Team VR46||KTM||1:42.529|
|4||5 Romano Fenati||ITA||Sky Racing Team VR46||KTM||1:42.582|
|5||41 Brad Binder||Republic of South Africa||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||1:42.599|
|6||58 Juanfran Guevara||Spain||RBA Racing Team||KTM||1:42.644|
|7||64 Bo Bendsneyder||Netherlands||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||1:42.655|
|8||20 Fabio Quartararo||France||Leopard Racing||KTM|
|9||4 Fabio Di Giannantonio||Italy||Gresini Racing moto3||Mahindra||1:42.724|
|0||21 Franceso Bagnaia||Italy||Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3||Mahindra||1:42.746|
|11||19 Gabriel Rodrigo||Argentina||RBA Racing Team||KTM||1:42.792|
|12||48 Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Italy||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||1:42.887|
|13||23 Niccolo Antonelli||Italy||Ongetta-Rivacold||Honda||1:42.911|
|14||95 Jules Danilo||France||Ongetta-Rivacold||Honda||1:42.959|
|15||65 Philipp Oetll||Germany||Schedl GP Racing||KTM||1:42.968|
|16||44 Aron Canet||Spain||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||1:43.214|
|17||55 Andrea Locatelli||Italy||Leopard Racing||KTM||1:43.235|
|18||36 Joan Mir||Spain||Leopard Racing||KTM||1:43.368|
|19||11 Livio Loi||Belgium||RW Racing GP BV||Honda||1:43.399|
|20||40 Darryn Binder||Republic of South Africa||Platinum Bay Real Estate||Mahindra||1:43.407|
|21||17 John McPhee||GBR||Peugeot MC Saxoprint||Peugeot||1:43.515|
|22||6 Maria Herrera||Spain||MH6 Team||KTM||1:43.641|
|23||10 Alexis Masbou||France||Peugeot MC Saxoprint||Peugeot||1:43.647|
|24||89 Khairul Idham Pawi||Malaysia||Honda Team Asia||Honda||1:43.692|
|25||84 Jakub Kornfeil||Czech Republic||Drive M7 SIC Racing Team||Honda||1:43.692|
|26||24 Tatsuki Suzuki||Japan||CIP-Unicorn Starker||Mahindra||1:43.754|
|27||12 Albert Arenas||Spain||Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3||Mahindra||1:43.873|
|28||43 Stefano Valtulini||Italy||3570 Team Italia||Mahindra||1:44.699|
|29||7 Adam Norrodin||Malaysia||Drive M7 SIC Racing Team||Honda||1:45.024|
|30||3 Fabio Spiranelli||Italy||CIP-Unicorn Starker||Mahindra||1:45.149|
|31||77 Lorenzo Petrarca||Italy||3570 Team Italia||Mahindra||1:45.153|
|32||22 Danny Webb||GBR||Platinum Bay Real Estate||Mahindra||1:45.225|